TU man to man: let’s talk sexual assault prevention

TU psychologist Michael McClendon opened Monday’s panel with a challenge.
“91.7 percent of people who commit sexual assault at TU are men. We’re here to help the good men take this campus back.”
Panel members included Earl Johnson, VP of enrollment; President Gerald Clancy; Joe Timmons, head of campus security; Mike Mills, dean of students; Derrick Gragg, athletic director; and two fraternity members, Jack Wood and Camden Schinnerer.
Opening the panel, Johnson said, “we take the responsibility of caring for students we bring here seriously.”
Mills told the crowd that the conversation of sexual assault is one that “starts here and continues”. He implied that the dialogue on assault is not finished at TU.
Clancy followed: “I’ve seen the other side of sexual assault, as a physician.” He explained to students the TU administration “ cares about you; we want you to succeed”. Gragg added that his own son goes here. If that’s not reason enough to care, he didn’t know what was.
After opening statements, McClendon posed the first question to the panel. “How has sexual assault impacted you personally?”
Clancy said that as a psychiatrist, he’s seen over 400 women who dealt with sexual assault “and the scars [from the attack] last 30, 40, even 50 years.”
Johnston said that every sexual assault case he’s dealt with involved a man “using his power and leverage” over a woman.
Timmons added, especially of attacks he’s seen on college campuses, “the perpetrator’s friends take his side, the victim’s take hers. The true shame lies with the third party of students, of which, a majority seem to side with the accused.” He concluded that he applauds those with the courage to tell their stories.
Gragg gave the example of how every friend group has that one guy who changes for the worse after drinking.
“Don’t excuse the things he says or the actions he takes. It’s wrong. Alcohol does not absolve one of responsibility,” Gragg said.
McClendon next asked the panel: “what are the barriers at TU to sexual assault prevention and what’s the best way to talk with guys about the issue?”
Clancy said “we need to shift the perception that sexual assault is part of the college experience”. He referenced movies like Old School and Animal House, that normalized the idea of wild parties and drunken misdeeds.
“At TU, we need to make it abundantly clear to students that this [assault] is not normal. It is a felony,” he said.
Gragg added that “you don’t have to be perfect yourself to stop a crime.” Many times, he continued, personalizing the crime helps create motivation to stop it.
The athletic director referenced the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in New York City, in which 38 people saw her attack or heard her screams, and not one person did something to stop the murder nor call the police.
The case highlights the importance of bystander intervention. The administration and campus security cannot be everywhere all the time. It falls on students to look out for each other.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler made a few remarks of his own.
“Assault carries an 85 percent serve rate, and the minimum sentence is five years. So, at minimum, you’re guaranteed four years in prison if convicted. Of the roughly 400 people in this room [ACAC’s great hall], one in ten is statistically a rape victim,” he said.
Kunzweiler reiterated the importance of putting a face to the victimization and the pain and concluded “you don’t need to take a class to understand how to respect a woman.”
McClendon finished by telling the men in the room that the administration is not targeting them.
“We know the majority of you are good guys. We aren’t saying you all are the problem, but you all can help each other be part of the solution,” he said.
Advertisements of the panel marketed it towards men because, on average, men commit the majority of reported sexual assaults.
The Advocacy Alliance and its student arm, SAVE, encourage any interested student to take a basic bystander intervention course. For more in-depth training, the course to become a trainer is only four hours.
Four hours is not a lot of time when it comes to potentially saving a life, McClendon said. “I spent more than four hours this weekend alone just watching football.”

Post Author: Alex Garoffolo